If there is something God wants you to do, let your actions put your fear to flight.
by David Jeremiah
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
As I write this, I am reminded of the times when I was most afraid of failure. The first was my last year in seminary.
I had spent four years in college and four years in graduate seminary training, and within weeks I would have to step out of that comfort zone into the real world. I remember thinking, I wonder if I’ll be able to do this. What if I’m just not cut out for the ministry?
My first assignment after graduating was to serve as a youth pastor and Christian education director at a large church in New Jersey. During the last months of our second year in New Jersey, I began to feel a growing desire to preach.
My few preaching opportunities made me eager to do more. We didn’t have to wait long for that desire to be met. A longtime pastor friend was building a network of churches in Fort Wayne, Ind. Out of the blue, he called to ask if I would have any interest in becoming the pastor of their newest church plant.
With many reservations, Donna and I agreed to visit the church. I would preach in the mother church and then meet with the seven families who had agreed to help start this new work.
As we traveled home afterward, we were both overwhelmed with the faith and excitement of this core group of people. And we were shocked that they wanted us to come lead them in this venture of faith. They gave us a couple of weeks to make our decision, and we ended up taking every single day! As the deadline drew near, I was conflicted. Looking back, I now realize that a big part of my indecision was the fear that I would not be able to accomplish what they wanted me to do. What if we went to Indiana and failed to make the new church a success?
Other issues also clouded my mind. During our visit, I had driven around the area where this church was to be planted, and I counted at least five wellestablished churches. I was to be the pastor of seven families meeting in a mobile home! That’s right — a mobile home. One of the core members of the new church sold mobile homes, and he had agreed to assemble four of them into an L-shaped arrangement that resulted in an “auditorium” that would seat 100 people, with the other section housing a nursery, a few classrooms, and a small office.
With only a few days left before the deadline, I drove to the New Jersey shore to spend the day thinking and praying. It was colder than I’d anticipated, so I popped into a coffee shop on the boardwalk to get warm. I took my coffee and a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer to a booth and settled in — and began reading a story that changed our lives.
It was an article about Vince Lombardi, the fabled coach of the Green Bay Packers. He had just left Wisconsin to become head coach of the struggling Washington Redskins. It was the talk of the sports world: Why would Lombardi leave his spectacularly successful franchise in Green Bay and move to what was then the worst franchise in the NFL? What caught my attention was a line in the middle of the article — a pullout quote from the coach set in bold type: “I have discovered in my life that it is more challenging to build than to maintain.”
I finished my coffee, drove the hour back to Haddon Heights, and told Donna that we were moving to Fort Wayne. God had vanquished my fear of failure — for the moment.
The fear returned as we spent the next few weeks preparing our transition to Indiana. I believed God had spoken to me that day at the Jersey shore, but I was still nervous and afraid — until we arrived. When we walked into the little house where we would live, we saw a sign taped on a kitchen cabinet door: God’s commandments are God’s enablements.
To this day, I don’t know who put the sign there, but I believe God moved them to do it.
It suddenly dawned on me: God wouldn’t tell me to do something that He wouldn’t enable me to accomplish!
Why should I be afraid if God had committed Himself to my success? What God did for Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Joshua, and others, He would do for me. And He did. For 12 years, God patiently helped me learn to be a pastor and caused the church to grow. When we left Fort Wayne, God had proved to Donna and me that the only way we learn to trust Him is to step out of our comfort zones into the “fear zone” and say yes to Him.
If you are in a similar place today, may I encourage you to replace your fear of the unknown with confidence in God and His Word? If there is something God wants you to do, let your actions put your fear to flight. WHY SHOULD I BE AFRAID if God had committed Himself to my success?
Taken from What Are You Afraid Of? by David Jeremiah. Copyright © 2013. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. DAVID JEREMIAH is senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. He and his wife, Donna, have four grown children and 11 grandchildren.
This article originally appeared in the July, 2014 issue of Mature Living.